Torture Prosecutions May Target Low-Level Offenders

Because, obviously, the higher-ups didn't know nothin' about it...


From Adam Serwer for American Prospect:

By now, everyone's heard that the Justice Department is apparently considering the Abu Ghraib strategy for dealing with torture as a legal matter--prosecuting only those low-level operators who went beyond the Office of Legal Counsel guidelines detailing how much torture was legal. The LA Times article quotes Human Rights Watch's Tom Malinowski saying "An investigation that focuses only on low-ranking operators would be, I think, worse than doing nothing at all."

From a standpoint of making sure the United States will never torture again, that may be true. As long as none of the architects of the torture program are prosecuted, torture remains a non-criminal "policy difference" rather than a crime, and--perhaps most importantly--the GOP has made torture a part of its anti-terrorism platform, we may see this happen all over again.

I think this point of view may be too America-centric--for American policy the implications of only prosecuting low-level interrogators and contractors is a serious problem. At the same time, there are people who were tortured to death in American custody--people like Manadel al-Jamadi, who asphyxiated after being hung from chains during an interrogation in Abu Ghraib in 2003. These people and their families deserve justice--and while the implications for American policy are bad, that's not all that's at stake here.

So the underlings go to the clink while their superiors stay high and dry? That's not tight. Ask Ricky Ross.